Piety hostage to power politics : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

NOUS INDICA

Piety hostage to power politics

Suddenly, Everyman becomes the Other and their common sentiment is fear

Piety hostage to power politics

Brazen: When the fringe elements do not lower their saffron banners even on Republic Day for the Tricolour to be unfurled in all its glory, fear envelops everyone who thinks and votes differently. Tribune photo



Rajesh Ramachandran

THE head of the powerful Gorakshapeeth denomination of the Nath tradition, who also happens to be the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, seems to have taken liberties with the Mahabharata in the context of the dispute over the Gyanvapi and Shahi Idgah mosques in Varanasi and Mathura, respectively. CM Yogi Adityanath invoked Krishna, saying in the UP legislative assembly that he is seeking just three religious places, like the Lord who had sought only five villages for the Pandavas, adding that when these villages were denied, the Mahabharata war became inevitable.

When two more mosques are being demanded, what is the guarantee that 20 more will not be demolished?

Well, Krishna, as the Pandava emissary to the Kaurava court, first asked for half the kingdom, then five villages, then one village, then five houses, then one house; when he was told that the Pandavas would not be given a place even to put a needle and when the Kauravas tried to take Krishna a prisoner, his mission failed. The epic says he exhibited his vishwaroopam (the magnificent self) before exiting the court. These stories are played and replayed in classical culture across the east and south of India.

In fact, despite demolishing the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi and the Krishna temple in Mathura, Aurangzeb could not do much to the native Indian culture. For instance, it was just the other day I was searching on YouTube the famous “yahi madhava yahi keshava” song from Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam when the search threw up many versions: As accompaniment for Kelucharan Mohapatra’s Odissi performance and a bharatanatyam recital, then as vocal rendition by Kishori Amonkar and then again in the sopana sangeetham tradition of Kerala, and even as film lyrics, the same Sanskrit song creates multiple worlds of musical brilliance.

If Jayadeva, who lived in the 12th century in a village between Bhubaneswar and Puri, is celebrated every day in another remote corner of the country — once ravaged by Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the British — Jayadeva’s Krishna does not really need another temple. For all its faults, it is piety that preserved the Indian classical culture, not power politics. It is this piety that bound India together as it expressed itself in Gandhian nationalism.

Now, when the same traditions and symbols of piety and penance are used to seek political power, it evokes fear in the minds of those rendered as the Other. A madrasa was demolished in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, two days ago, leading to a riot that claimed six lives on Thursday. Earlier this week, a 600-year-old mosque was demolished at Mehrauli in Delhi. Some of these structures might have had encroachments, but then the due process of law would have made the local residents feel secure instead of turning them violently aggrieved.

The Mehrauli and Haldwani incidents do not endorse Yogi’s statement asking for just three temples the way Krishna asked for five villages. Even the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the post-Independence remnant of Jinnah’s Muslim League and the biggest party of the Muslims, had officially welcomed the consecration of the Ram temple at Ayodhya built after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Two days after the event, the Kerala unit president of the IUML, Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal, termed the Ram Temple a reality and said: “We cannot go back from that. There is no need to protest against it. The temple came up based on a court order and the Babri Masjid is about to be constructed. These two are now part of India. The Ram Temple and the proposed Babri Masjid are two best examples that strengthen secularism in our country.”

There cannot be a more categorical acceptance of the ‘reality’ than this. Still, when Yogi asks for two more temples, how should the Muslim community respond? I know of three non-Hindu students of Delhi University who use Hindu names on their cab-hailing and food-delivery mobile apps because they are scared of a possible hate crime. Nothing has happened to them yet, but when the fringe elements are on the loose, trying to establish the primacy of their partisan banner over the national flag or when they do not lower their saffron banners even on Republic Day for the Tricolour to be unfurled in all its glory or when a saffron flag flies over the national flag in a group housing society of civil servants, fear envelops everyone who thinks and votes differently. Suddenly, Everyman becomes the Other and their common sentiment is fear — so fearful that nobody dare ask why the saffron flags cannot be removed long after the temple consecration.

Like Thangal, everybody, every Muslim, wants to move on. But they cannot when they are asked to pay something akin to jaziya for Aurangzeb’s atrocities. When two more mosques are being demanded, what is the guarantee that 20 more will not be demolished? All those who were present at the consecration of the Ram temple — the Prime Minister, the RSS chief, the UP Governor and Chief Minister — can again sit together and offer a solemn, sacred guarantee to the Muslim community that but for Kashi and Mathura, no mosque will be surveyed or demanded. And drives against encroachments should no longer be ‘special’ or ‘targeted’.

India is an overly religious country. Encroachments in the name of religion turn into extortionist enterprises and hence they ought to be cleared promptly, whenever and wherever they happen. At The Tribune Chowk, there is always a threat of a Shivling appearing miraculously. Whenever it does, we ring the alarm bells to get the encroachment cleared so that Lord Shiva is not demeaned by some roadside racketeer. Similarly, all illegal madrasas (actually, religious education should be actively discouraged) should be removed, but only after following the due process of law.

One of the greatest aphorisms from the Mahabharata is “yato dharmastato jaya”, uttered by a mother refusing to bless her son who wouldn’t give his cousins what is rightfully theirs.

#Gyanvapi #Uttar Pradesh


Top News

ED challenges Arvind Kejriwal's bail, as Delhi CM to leave jail today

Arvind Kejriwal to remain in jail as Delhi High Court grants interim stay on trial court's bail order

The AAP national convenor, who was arrested on March 21 by t...

India criticises Canadian parliament observing ‘one-minute silence’ in memory of Hardeep Nijjar

India criticises Canadian parliament observing ‘one-minute silence’ in memory of Hardeep Nijjar

In an unusual move, the Canadian parliament observed ‘one-mi...

Sikh activists on Canada's no-fly list lose appeal; court sees 'reasonable grounds' for terror concern

Sikh activists on Canada's no-fly list lose appeal; court sees 'reasonable grounds' for terror concern

The activists were not allowed to board planes in Vancouver ...


Cities

View All